Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Margaret Jones Souders, 1878-1940

By Anisa Ricci, student researcher, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana.

Clubwoman, suffragist

Margaret Jones Souders was a prominent white Montana clubwoman born in Tennessee in 1878. Souders is identified in the History of Woman Suffrage as Mrs. Sarah M. Souders. A local history revealed that Margaret Jones married Dr. S. M. Souders, a physician, in Vernon, Texas in 1901 and moved to Montana the following January, a detail confirmed in later census records.

Prior to her marriage, Jones attended the Oxford College for Women in Oxford, Ohio and graduated in 1898, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree and high honors. After marrying and moving to Montana, she gave birth to Mott Jr. Souders in December 1905, Margaret Elizabeth Souders in January 1911, and Helen Jeanette Souders in 1912. She became politically and socially active soon after her last child was born.

The History of Woman Suffrage provides information about women active in the campaign for suffrage in Montana. The history notes that these women participated in speaking engagements across the state and raised funds for the suffrage campaign. Souders was described as being "especially active" in the 1914 campaign.

Souders also was highly involved with the Montana Federated Women's Clubs, an affiliate of the pro-suffrage General Federation of Women's Clubs. In addition to serving as chair of the club's Fine Arts Department, she served as the president of the entire organization from 1921 to 1924, making her the longest-serving president. One of Souders's goals as president was to work towards aligning the Montana Federated Women's Clubs with the work of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Souders urged women to give special attention to the Department of American Citizenship and the Department of Public Welfare if they were unable to study all departments.

After completing her presidency, Souders continued her work on behalf of women as an advocate for public health. A 1926 article in the Montana Woman, the publication of the Montana Federated Women's Clubs, gives insight into Souders' work after her presidency to ensure the adoption of the Sheppard-Towner Act, which provided federally-subsidized health services to women and children in rural areas. Souders also promoted public health by serving on the State Advisory Committee of the Red Cross Conference about Water Safety in 1923. Souders's efforts to ensure public health reflected the aims of mainstream feminists in the 1920s and women's participation in Progressive reform.

Souders died on July 3, 1940 and was buried at the Red Lodge Cemetery along with her husband.


"Complete Report of District Meeting of Montana Women's Federated Clubs Held At Baker Last Week," Fallon County Times, 14 October 1917, p. 7, Montana Newspapers

"District Number Seven of the Montana Federated Women's Clubs Now Meeting in Choteau," The Choteau Montanan, 19 October 1923, p. 1, Montana Newspapers

Harper, Ida Husted, History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. 6 (New York: J. J. Little & Ives Co., 1922), p. 362. [LINK]

"Local News," Big Timber Pioneer, 4 October 1917, p. 5, Montana Newspapers

"Margaret Thomas Jones Souders (1878-1940)," Find A Grave Memorial,

Montana, Its Story and Biography: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Montana and Three Decades of Statehood, Vol. 2, The Early Montana Histories Collection, The University of Montana-Missoula, Montana Memory Project,

"Montana News Brieflets," The River Press, 29 June 1932, p. 3, Montana Newspapers

"Red Cross Plans Big State Meeting," The Dillon Examiner, 11 July 1923, p.7, Montana Newspapers

"Red Lodge Remembers Deeds of Dr. Johnson," Big Timber Pioneer, 18 November 1937, p. 8, Montana Newspapers

"Representatives of over 5,000 Organized Montana Women To Meet in Anaconda Soon," The Winifred Times, 22 June 1923, p. 2, Montana Newspapers

"Samuel Mott Souders (1873-1946)," Find A Grave Memorial,

U. S. Federal Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Red Lodge, Carbon, Montana; Roll: T625_967; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 16.

"Wednesday Evening Session," Montana Woman (1926), Montana Woman Collection, Montana State Library, Montana Memory Project,\

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